Terrible Writing Advice – Chapter 16: Taking Criticism

A writer must stand ready to battle all foes. In this case that would be mean people in the comments section and reviewers who fail to recognize the author’s genius. They must be put in their place at any cost! Watch this video and an author will be ready to feed any troll… I mean fight any troll and win. Internet arguing is another form of writing after all.

My Honest Thoughts on Taking Criticism

The inter-connectivity of the internet and easy access to new publishing technologies has opened the creative gates in nearly every kind of media. Not only that, but the audience for almost every kind of media has also grown along with internet access. This has resulted in the age of the independent creator, but also has the side effect of unleashing a wave of thin-skinned content creators who just can’t stand anyone telling them their pet projects are anything less than perfect. This is exacerbated by the lack of an emotional filter when it comes to online communication and social media. The denizens of the internet just have no reason to handle any creator with kid gloves and so the proliferation of thin-skinned creators has occurred.

Thankfully, this is one of the easiest pitfalls for a writer to avoid. The solution is pretty easy.
Never
Respond
To
A
Negative
Review
Ever!
Not even if they get everything wrong. Not even if they haven’t read the book. It takes only one internet fight to send a writing career down in flames. An author seldom comes out on top during an online argument. It is very easy to get dragged down to the level of the unfair reviewer and easily lose the high ground. Just don’t. It’s probably a good idea to even avoid responding to positive reviews. There is too much temptation there.

Another issue is that when you start responding to negative reviews, the trolls always follow. Once you show everyone you have thin-skin, it makes you a target and people love drama. Regardless of how well written your story is, people will always care more about author drama than whatever drama they have written about. Just look at all of the tabloids.

The thin-skinned creator is practically a trope in and of itself. I can think of a few of examples off the top of my head: A gaming company called Digital Homicide, a movie maker named Derek Savage, Norman Boutin author of Empress Theresa, and even a few others that I will not mention to spare the curious from how twisted their stories get. All of these people went toe to toe with their critics and all of them either lost outright or came away from the confrontation a lot worse than when they went in.

If you put something out on the internet, people are going to critique it. There will also be people who will not like your work and that’s okay. It is important for authors to remind themselves that they are writing for their audience and not for every single human on the planet. You are trying to reach the people who will love your work.

The important thing to remember is to not take criticism personally and instead look at it like an opportunity. I always hate to see authors who fail to listen during writer group critiques. They waste their time defending their work or dismiss everything negative and assume the critic is simply misinformed. That’s not to say you should listen to every criticism or take every suggestion. 90% of everything is crap and that applies to criticism and suggestions as well. Be especially wary of online comments. None the less, always listen and always look for ways to improve. Otherwise you might end up with trolls creating a wiki about you and I doubt it will be the kind of wiki you want. Yes that does happen. Norman Boutin has his own that documents his 10,000 post fight on an amazon review. Fight with your critics enough and they become your only audience. Well them and all of the trolls who have found someone they can get a rise out of.